A Parent's Summer Reading List

With summer in full swing, us parents are probably working with our kids to make sure they don’t lose every bit of knowledge they learned during the year as well as hoping they pick up a few new things as well.  After all, our kids’ education doesn’t end when school does but is an ongoing process for them even if what they learn changes.  However, with all the focus on what our children are learning, we often forget to add in some time for our education.  Yes, that’s right, us parents also can learn a thing or two and summer is one of the perfect times to get our own summer reading list going so we can learn while hanging at the beach, the pool, or just in the backyard.  The question of what to learn is up to you, and if you find books on cooking, another language, computers, or something else, that’s great.  Here, though, I offer up some suggestions for some parenting and education books that may open your eyes to learning new ways of teaching, learning, leading, and just parenting.

Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us by Christine Gross-Loh.  This is absolutely one of my favourite books period.  In our society we are so convinced that the way we see things frequently done is the “right” way or even the only way to raise happy, healthy children yet we lament some of the problems we see in younger generations.  This book looks at everything from sleep to food to education and how various cultures around the world approach these topics.  What you hopefully come away with is not only that there is more than one way to parent, but that some of these other ways may in fact be superior to our own.

It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker.  Drawing on a lot of research in a lot of different fields, this book tackles some of the ingrained “rules” that seem to exist in our children’s worlds (thanks to us) that possibly need not apply.  Like Parenting Without Borders, be prepared to question why we do what we do as parents and then to question if it’s even the “right” thing to do given our overarching goal of raising “good” kids.  You may not give up all the rules by the end, but at least you may appreciate the perspective of those who have.

Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy.  From the creator of the popular blog by the same name, this book is really like a how-to manual for those who are ready to give up the full control over our children while enabling them to take responsibility for their well-being and safety, even if you live in New York City.  Fear has pervaded over a generation (or two) of parents now and our children are being raised without the basic teachings of how to be self-reliant while being safe, not a good thing when they need to eventually grow up and move on by themselves.  Fact-based and fear-free, Free-Range Kids is a must-read for all parents who wish to empower instead of control their own children.

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel.  I don’t know a single parent that wishes they could help their child learn how to learn.  This essential skill can remove the stress and worry (at least to a certain extent) that plagues our children as they make their way through school.  As parents we struggle to find ways to help our kids, but often aren’t aware of exactly how memory and learning takes place.  This book offers us both that information and concrete things to do to help our children (and ourselves) become better learners.

By Tracy Cassels

July 28, 2014